Government by Trolling

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 10 2013 8:50 AM

Government by Trolling

My latest piece on the Great Shutdown of 2013 asks whether the long-term political gamesmanship of the House Republicans makes any sense. In lieu of getting their bills through the Senate, Republicans are passing "mini-CRs" in the House to fund whatever is popular/hard not to fund on a particular day. The goal: shame Democrats for not wanting to fund veterans or kids with cancer or what have you, then blast them with negative ads about same, probably in a year. It's not working in the short term (local newspapers are not covering the bills, really, nor the Republican attacks on vulnerable congressmen), and even PolitiFact tells me that it would look skeptically on such attacks.

One aspect of the strategy I didn't get into: how impossible it actually is to fund the entire government by reacting to negative pressure for certain programs. Over at the Center for American Progress, Michael Linden* has created a helpful chart that shows just how little of the government has been funded by these reactive bills.

Also, Republicans I've talked to agree that it would be tough to get the conference to back, say, short-term funding for the EPA or functions of the Department of Labor.

Correction, October 11, 2013: This post originally said Brad Plumer of the Washington Post created the chart.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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